The High Flux Beam Reactor
Building upon experience gained with the Brookhaven Graphite Research Reactor, the High Flux Beam Reactor was designed to produce copious amounts of neutrons, particles which are uniquely suited to this purpose. In the HFBR, the neutron flux reached its maximum outside the reactor core, where it was readily available for experiments, rather than inside the core, as with most reactors. During its 31 years of operation, the reactor achieved an enviable record as a dependable source of neutrons, the sub-atomic probes crucial to a wide array of scientific research programs.
The structure of the "protein factory" of the cell, the 16-part ribosome, was first discerned at the HFBR, as was the structure of myelin, the protein that coats nerve cells. New uses of radioactive isotopes were developed at the HFBR for treating cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and other medical disorders.
The understanding of one-, two-, and three-dimensional magnets near their critical temperatures gained at the HFBR helped scientists formulate and test Nobel Prize-winning theories of cooperative ordering in large collections of atoms. HFBR scientists addressed the riddle of superconductivity at temperatures above 90 degrees kelvin in high temperature superconductors, demonstrating a relationship between this phenomenon and magnetism.
The HFBR allowed researchers to study the basic nature of chemical structures, including the hydrogen bond that holds much of nature together. HFBR scientists determined the structures of the 23 amino acids, which make up every protein in every cell in living things.
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